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Cardiff and the Valleys at War 1939–45 (Paperback)

Military WWII > The Blitz World History > UK & Ireland > Towns & Cities in World War Two World History > UK & Ireland > Wales

By Gary Dobbs
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: Your Towns & Cities in World War Two
Pages: 114
Illustrations: 50
ISBN: 9781473864610
Published: 13th November 2018



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When Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, Cardiff and its surroundings, like every other city, town, hamlet and village in the country, sent forth large numbers of young men to fight against the oppression of Hitler and the Nazis. This is a story not only of the war itself, but of the way war affected those far away from the battlefields, and of how a nation stood together in the face of a seemingly unstoppable force.

The book pays particular attention to the way Welsh society changed during the war years, far reaching changes that are still felt in the country today. The book details the enormity of the human sacrifice paid by the people of Cardiff and its surrounding areas, but also contains many examples of the way ordinary people stood proud, defiant in their determination to bring about the downfall of the Nazis. Lavishly illustrated with over fifty original and modern-day photographs, this book is essential reading for anyone interest in military and social history.

WW II was a people's war and Gary Dobbs describes its impact on the docks and the South Wales coal mining communities. In the initial months of the war German bombers and tanks over-ran Norway, France, and Belgium, destroying their armies, quickly followed by the Japanese capture of Singapore, capturing more than 90,000 Allied troops. German troops stood poised on the channel ports, ready to invade Britain. German bombers stationed in France were within minutes flying time for targets in Britain. Including Welsh ports along the Bristol Channel and the munition factories re-equipping army losses in ill-fated battles.

With men in the armed forces factory benches were manned by women. Britain's defence rested on a volunteer force of WW1 veterans a 'Dad Army' of Home Guard. Many would become part of a secret unit formed to attack German line of communication, WHEN not if, they invaded. The Womens' Voluntary Services and
a volunteer army of nurses were in the forefront of the people's war. Ships and power stations required coal dug out of pits in the South Wales valleys.

Gary Dobbs weaves an interesting social impact of women having their own money, not dependant on their husband's hand-outs. The social discontent when wives pay packets were more than their husbands earned, brought strikes for equal pay. Then the American soldiers came endearing themselves with chewing gum and silk stockings.

Gary Dobbs 'Cardiff & the valleys at war', published by PEN AND SWORD MILITARY BOOKS , is a page turner. The book is supported by photographs' and useful list of dates of bombing raids over Cardiff, Swansea, and the welsh valleys.

Richard Gough, author and historian

I love that this book has a focus on local history, rather than a generalised national history, as I find local histories so much more relatable as I can recognise the names of places and maybe even people! Whilst I'm not from the Valleys myself, I do live quite nearby to Cardiff so it's great to learn more about the history of South Wales. This book is part of a series published by Pen and Sword called 'Your Towns and Cities in World War Two', so there might even be a book focused on your local area too!

This book is great for those with a general interest in the history of South Wales and WW2, but also for those studying the subject. For example, chapter 1 covers the impact of the Blitz on South Wales and includes some personal stories about families who were affected; but also includes a timeline of notable Luftwaffe attacks on South Wales which would make a great revision aid for students and is an easy way to find factual information.

Read the full review here

That Herstorian

Will be of interest to anybody that resides or did reside in the Cardiff and surrounding areas. It is a fascinating offering of how life was like during the Second World War.

Cardiff Times, May 2019

Article: 'New book details life in the city and valleys during wartime' as featured by

South Wales Echo, 22nd February 2019 – words by Brian Lee
 Gary Dobbs

About Gary Dobbs

Welsh author Gary Dobbs is best known as a fiction writer. Using the pen name Jack Martin, he is responsible for a string of best-selling westerns as well as the popular crime series, Granny Smith. The latter published under his own name.

Cardiff and the Valleys in the Great War is his first major non-fiction work and he felt both humbled and proud to tackle the project. Hours of research were involved in compiling the stories presented within these pages, and alongside the grim statistics the author feels that there is a very human story that he was deeply privileged to tell.

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